When They See Us co-stars Aunjanue Ellis and Ethan Herisse reunite for feature adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Nickel Boys. Brandon Wilson, Hamish Linklater, and Fred Hechinger also star in the film for MGM’s Orion Pictures.
Based on the true story of a Florida reform school that damaged the lives of thousands of children over more than a century, its protagonist is Elwood Curtis, a Black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee who is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, then finding himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. His only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.
Details as to the roles to be played by the actors haven’t been disclosed.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker RaMell Ross is directing the feature and penned the screenplay with Joslyn Barnes of Louverture Films. Plan B Entertainment, Anonymous Content and Barnes are producing, with Whitehead serving as exec producer. The Nickel Boys marks Plan B’s second collaboration with Whitehead, following Barry Jenkins’ Emmy-nominated limited series adaptation of The Underground Railroad for Prime Video, which earned a Peabody Award as well as a BAFTA.
The Nickel Boys is Whitehead’s 2020 novel and his second Pultizer-prize winning book following 2016’s The Underground Railroad.
Ellis and Herisse both starred in Ava Duvernay’s 2019 based-on-a-true-story film When They See Us playing mother and son (Ellis as Sharonne Salaam, Herisse as Yusef Salaam).